Video game companies bow to pressure to list loot box odds

Loot boxes have always been something of a mixed blessing for the video game industry. On the one hand, the in-game prize/lottery system is wildly popular and raises plenty of revenue with almost no effort. But all that money comes with the price of increased scrutiny from regulators. In country after country, lawmakers have reviewed the ubiquitous prize system with an eye on whether or not it constitutes actual gambling.
In hopes of heading off any real legislation that bars or restricts the use of loot boxes, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) recently fired off a press release suggesting that video game companies will start listing the odds for winning loot boxes, particularly for rare items.
“The major console makers – Sony Interactive Entertainment, operator of the PlayStation platform, Microsoft, operator of Xbox and Windows, and Nintendo, operator of the Nintendo Switch gaming platform – are committing to new platform policies that will require paid loot boxes in games developed for their platforms to disclose information on the relative rarity or probability of obtaining randomized virtual items. These required disclosures will also apply to game updates, if the update adds new loot box features. The precise timing of this disclosure requirement is still being worked out, but the console makers are targeting 2020 for the implementation of the policy,” the release stated.
Details regarding how and where the odds would be posted were not included in the press release and the timeline for the loot box actions were vague. What remains to be seen now is whether or not the children who actually purchase loot boxes will read and/or understand the odds, once they’re actually published.